There has been much said about the Lexus CT200h and its efficiency, but in reality, the model’s hidden genius is in its speakers.
Partnering with Panasonic, the Lexus CT200h might have one of the best in-car sound systems, all thanks to one secret ingredient: bamboo.
About six years ago, engineers at Panasonic discovered that charcoaled bamboo and bamboo fibres serve to ameliorate the sound quality in cars.
It was on the discovery, that the suggestion came about to use the renewable, natural source in the CT 200h’s speakers.
Unsurprisingly, speakers en masse are a complex array of collaborative parts, but it is the cone-shaped membrane of the speaker’s diaphragm that concerns the bamboo.
The diaphragm of a speaker needs to be light, stiff, rigid and flexible all at once and it is these quadruple-pronged set of qualities that bamboo provides.
Koji Sano, Chief Engineer at Panasonic was the mastermind behind this, he describes the way bamboo moves: “You often see bamboo sway in strong winds, constantly moving in all directions without cracking. That’s the sort of quality we seek in a speaker diaphragm.”
Although brilliant, the idea was a long process and the first functioning bamboo-speaker prototype was only installed in the Lexus CT 200H three years ago.
Not satisfied with the results, Sano and his team went back to the drawing board, to make the sound quality still better.
These improved speakers are in the current generation CT and, “The secret behind our latest improvement is a material called plant opal,” says Sano.
Extracted from bamboo leaves, the plant opal is a microscopic hard and clear structure that Sano and his team have inserted into the bamboo diaphragm to improve its rigidity – resulting in a much clearer sound.
If you’re a Lexus CT 200h owner, we recommend that you listen to music constantly in the car, particularly at a high frequency to gain the best from your bamboo speakers.